Creative Ways to Wrap Gifts

Put extra thought into your gifts this holiday season by using recycled materials to create elegant or amusingly wrapped presents for your friends and family.

It may be tempting to buy rolls of cheap, shiny paper to wrap your gifts, but this easy option won't reflect the care you've put into choosing the gifts themselves, and it doesn't benefit the planet.

Reuse Paper and Cardboard

Gifts wrapped in reused paper can look stylish and unique if you wrap them with care. Collect brown paper, out-of-date maps and atlases, old wall charts, calendars and unused rolls of wallpaper to build up a collection of instant Christmas wrapping. Pages from newspapers or magazines also make attractively wrapped gifts — use the sports section of a newspaper to wrap a gift for a sports fan, for example, or colorful comics to wrap gifts for children and teenagers. If your gift is an unusual shape, put it in a decorated or covered shoe box or shirt box, or use recycled paper sandwich bags decorated with dried leaves, pressed home-grown flowers or feathers. 

Terracotta Pots Act as Wrapping Paper for Bulbs

Terracotta Pots Act as Wrapping Paper for Bulbs

Photo by: DK - A Greener Christmas © 2008 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - A Greener Christmas, 2008 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Paper-Free Wrapping

A fun, quirky way to wrap a few of your favorite bulbs for an aspiring gardener is to place them inside one terracotta pot, place an identical upturned pot on top of it and decorate the joined rims with a length of trailing ivy. It's the ultimate in eco-friendly wrapping, as the bulbs can be planted in the pots, and then the pots recycled indefinitely. You could also use vintage fabric or old, unwanted garments to wrap gifts: a length of velvet, an old scarf, cloth napkin, handkerchief or dish towel can all be transformed into stylish gift wrap. Tie the gift with another recycled garment, such as a thin scarf or tie. Or make your own gift bags with scraps of fabric — a simple drawstring bag made out of pretty fabric can become a gift in itself.

Waste Paper Facts

The United States alone produces an extra three million tons of waste over the Christmas period, most of which is wrapping paper, packaging and cards, which could all be recycled. If you choose to buy traditional wrapping paper, select a paper that has a matte finish, because shiny foil and plastic-embossed papers require more resources to be produced and are unable to be recycled. If every American family wrapped just three presents in reused or repurposed materials, it has been estimated that enough paper would be saved to cover 45,000 football fields.

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